Child Protection

Looked After Children Reviews

The Independent Reviewing Officer's (IRO) primary focus is to quality assure the care planning and review process for each child and to ensure that his/her current wishes and feelings are given full consideration. The Independent Reviewing Officer is independent from the social work operational teams and this independence enables them to effectively challenge practice.

Statutory function

Care planning and review are about bringing together children who are looked after, their families, carers and professionals, in order to plan for the care of the child and to review that plan on a regular basis. The purpose of the first statutory review meeting is to consider the presented care plan in respect of the child and evaluate whether or not it meets the identified needs of the child. Subsequent reviews monitor the progress of the plan and make decisions to amend the plan as necessary in light of changed knowledge and circumstances.

  • Statutory reviews must be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO).
  • IRO's have a statutory responsibility to oversee and monitor the progress of care planning for all looked after children.
  • IRO's have responsibility for determining whether the care plan meets a child's needs, whether it is 'fair and reasonable' and whether it should be endorsed fully or in parts.
  • IRO's have a responsibility to consult the child about his/her care plan at each statutory review and any time there is a significant change to the care plan.

The Looked After Children Review is the child’s meeting and discussion should take place between the Independent Reviewing Officer and child’s Social Worker before the meeting to determine who the child would like to be invited. In the event the child does not want people present who have information important to the review or it is not appropriate for a person to attend, the review may take place in a number of parts. Every child has a right to an advocate to support them in their review or attend on their behalf if they wish, this can be requested via the child's Social Worker or IRO. If a child does not wish to attend or have an advocate, a child can meet with the IRO separately to the meeting to share their views or can choose someone they feel comfortable with to share their views such as a social worker, other professional, carer or family member. Every child will also receive a consultation document to complete if they wish.

Timing of review meetings

The Local authority is required to carry out review meetings in line with timings specified in the Regulations [regulation 33]:

  • The first review of a child’s case within 20 working days of the date on which the child becomes looked after;
  • The second review no more than three months after the first;
  • The third and subsequent reviews no more than six months after the previous one.
  • A review whenever the IRO directs; and
  • A review in all other circumstances as specified by the Regulations (significant change in circumstances).

A Review may be called in exceptional circumstances before the statutory timescale if there are changes in the care plan that necessitate review and discussion.

A review prior to any child/young person ceasing to be looked after.